Region 3 rice producers prove readiness for Asean integration
The use of good seeds mainly hybrids, a strong public-private partnership, irrigation, and farmers’ empowerment have set Region 3’s rice sector competitive for the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) integration.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has recognized Region 3’s replicable leadership in rice sector. It has harnessed farmer’s full potential to yield high. Its average yield is 5.85 metric tons (MT) per hectare. The national average is only at 3.94 MT per hectare.
At 5.85 MT per hectare average yield or 117 cavans per hectare, Region 3 has already achieved the Masagana ’99 (99 or 100 cavans) target of the 1970s, according to DA Region 3 Chief Andrew B. Villacorta.
“The 100-cavan target was 30 years ago. We’ve not yet achieved that (nationally). We’re lucky in Region 3 we have quality seeds with Philrice here. And we cannot discount the contribution of the private companies that aggressively promote their seeds,” said Villacorta.
The country is now exporting seeds to other Asian countries because of the hybrid technology.
“Because of hybrid rice, we’re able to export rice seeds to Vietnam. PNG (Papua New Guinea) is a big area. It has been importing from Australia. Now we have proven people wrong that rice cannot grow in PNG,” said SLAC Chairman Henry Lim Bon Liong.
Region 3 contributed 3.78 million MT in rice production to the national output of more than 19 million MT as of 2014.
The incremental production alone of Region 3 in 2014 totaled 360,000 MT. This accounted for 72 percent of the 500,000-MT total increase in the entire Philippine rice yield.
“We saw a joint effort of the local government, national government, and private sector. We have a good working relationship,” said Crispulo G. Bautista Jr., DA-Region 3 assistant regional director at a harvest festival of SLAC in La Paz, Tarlac.
Such public-private partnership is making Region 3 competitive for the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) integration, said Bautista.
The municipal government of La Paz, led by Mayor Michael M. Manuel, granted a P1,000 per bag per hectare subsidy to farmers. Tarlac province LGU gave a similar P1,000 subsidy, and DA, P1,200, per hectare.
Bautista said Region 3’s hybrid rice planting in the dry season (DS) of 2015 reached to as much as 84,000 hectares. This is up by 64.7 percent from the 51,000 hybrid rice area in 2014 DS. A sizable hybrid rice area in Region 3 is supplied with mainly SL-8H seeds at 60 to 70 percent.
The cost of producing a kilo of rice in Region 3 is now competitive at a low of P8.57 per kilo compared to the national average production cost of more than P10 per kilo.
Tarlac Gov. Victor A. Yap is pushing for a three-year memorandum of agreement (MOA) between various agencies to institutionalize support for hybrid rice even if administrations will have changed within this period.
“It’s good that now DA recognizes that to incentivize production, we have to give subsidy which is an important help to farmers in times when income is low,” said Yap.
“With its new invention, SL-8 raises production to attain 120 to 160 cavans. This three-year MOA will make it easy for the next administration to adopt a policy supporting hybrid rice.”
Villacorta said DA credit through “Sikat Saka” has also helped Region 3 farmers. Another major factor to Region 3’s leadership is farmers’ empowerment with its many organized certified seed producers.
“We export our seeds to other regions. Other regions can also produce their seeds, so they could lower production cost and won’t have to import seeds,” said Villacorta.
Region 3 also has higher fertilizer usage at 10-12 bags per hectare compared to only 8-10 bags in other regions. It is composed of mainly Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Bulacan, and Zambales.
Tarlac is providing assistance to farmers mechanized harvesters to supplement its hybrid rice subsidy.
“Hybrid rice is good. It will be better if there is mechanized harvest, production increases by 20 percent. Mechanization and right breeding and genetics are important. I realize why it’s important to have these in the hand of businesses who make sure there are standards and quality in the supply of technology. There is supply sustainability,” Yap said.
Some LGUs refuse to supply their farmers with pre and post-harvest machines because of fear of displacement of labor.
“But here in Tarlac, we’re growing manufacturing along with agriculture where there is a need for more skilled labor (that may be displaced by mechanization),” said Yap.
Tarlac Third District Rep. Noel L. Villanueva said in the same harvest festival that he is pushing for the approval of the Balog Balog irrigation project in Tarlac in order support hybrid rice farming.
This will be a major help to Tarlac farmers where a national irrigation system (NIS) is needed to boost farm production, particularly rice, while supporting other sectors through its co-generated power supply.
The Balog Balog NIS will provide year-round water for 39,150 hectares. It will supply Concecpion, Gerona, Pura, Ramos, Paniqui, La Paz, Victoria, and Tarlac City.
Read more at http://www.mb.com.ph/region-3-rice-producers-prove-readiness-for-asean-integration/#7eiZbHqFZ5Wuk4k6.99